NHL trade winds blow Hurricanes’ way in completing 3 deals
Hurricanes president Don Waddell resisted the urge to sign Zamboni driver David Ayres – or acquire anyone else, for that matter – to address Carolina’s injury-depleted goaltending ranks before the NHL trade deadline struck Monday.
Waddell, however, did manage to upgrade the rest of his roster to better position his team in the tightly contested Metropolitan Division over the final six weeks of the season.
The Hurricanes acquired center Vincent Trocheck in a multiplayer deal with Florida. And they bulked up their defense by adding Sami Vatanen from New Jersey and sending a first-round draft pick to land Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers.
“We believe in the guys that we had here, but we thought we needed to strengthen us at certain positions,” Waddell said. “I think, overall, it’s a strong message that we’re here to win.”
The Hurricanes weren’t the only Metropolitan team making moves when just seven points separate the third-place Philadelphia Flyers and seventh-place Rangers.
The New York Islanders acquired Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators, and then signed the playmaking forward to a six-year contract extension.
Patrick Marleau is back in the Eastern Conference after the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired the 40-year-old in a trade with San Jose. The Penguins then brought back forward Conor Sheary, a member of Pittsburgh’s past two Stanley Cup winners, in a trade with Buffalo.
Overall, the 32 trades completed were the most on the NHL’s final day of trading. And the 55 players dealt matched the record set on March 3, 2010.
And the two biggest deals that didn’t happen involved Chris Kreider, who elected to re-sign with the New York Rangers, and Wild forward Zach Parise, who stayed put in Minnesota.
Kreider came off the market after signing a seven-year contract extension. With 24 goals in 60 games, Kreider has topped 20 goals for a seventh consecutive season.
With the Rangers having won 10 of 13 to climb into contention, general manager Jeff Gorton weighed the team’s long- and short-term options as negotiations with Kreider came down to the wire.
“We’re pretty happy with how we’re playing. A lot of people have stepped up,” Gorton said. “I think our job is to look big picture, too. I think you see that with Chris. We kept him as a Ranger.”
As for Parise, Wild general manager Bill Guerin didn’t go into detail in acknowledging he entertained trade talks involving the team’s leading scorer.
“The fact that nothing happened today is fine,” Guerin said.
In Carolina, Waddell has to be hoping the same when it comes to his goaltending. James Reimer (lower body) and Petr Mrazek (concussion) are considered week to week after both were hurt against Toronto last weekend. The injuries forced Carolina to turn to the 42-year-old Ayres, the emergency backup and part-time Zamboni driver, who helped secure a 6-3 victory.
That leaves Carolina having to lean on minor-league call-ups Anton Forsberg and Alex Nedeljkovic in net for the near future at least.
Waddell placed his faith in Nedeljkovic, who earned AHL goalie of the year honors last season, and went 10-4 in the playoffs to lead the Charlotte Checkers to a Calder Cup championship. Forsberg has NHL experience with an 11-24-4 record in 45 career games.
“We talked about it, but we weren’t going to spend many assets to try to get somebody to help us over the next few weeks,” Waddell said.
Carolina’s key addition was Trocheck, a seventh-year center, who has 10 goals and 36 points in 55 games this season — a drop-off from two years ago when he had a career-best 31 goals and 75 points. Carolina gave up forwards Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark, plus a pair of prospects.
The Metropolitan teams have been the most active this trade season.
On Sunday, the Washington Capitals acquired Ilya Kovalchuk in a deal with Montreal. The Islanders previously added veteran defenseman Andy Green from New Jersey. Two weeks ago, the Penguins added Jason Zucker in a trade with Minnesota.
At the other end of the spectrum was the rebuilding Senators, who were sellers for a second consecutive year.
Aside from trading Pageau, their leading scorer, the Senators dealt forwards Vladislav Namestnikov to Colorado and Tyler Ennis to Edmonton.
In return, Ottawa increased its already large stockpile of draft picks. The Senators now have 13 picks, including nine in the first three rounds in this year’s draft.
“Today was probably the toughest call I’ve ever made as a general manager. It was very difficult to tell Jean-Gabriel that he was traded,” general manager Pierre Dorion said, fondly recalling the time he first scouted the player. “I can tell you I don’t get very emotional a lot with players, but today was a very difficult call to make with him.”
The Devils also continued a roster overhaul under interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald.
New Jersey acquired forward Janne Kuokkanen, defenseman Fredrik Claesson and a conditional fourth-round pick in trading Vatanen to Carolina. The Devils acquired a fifth-round pick by sending power forward Wayne Simmonds to Buffalo. And they swapped goalies by trading Louis Domingue to Vancouver for Zane McIntyre.
►Tampa Bay gave up a first-round pick to acquire right wing Barclay Goodrow from San Jose.
►The Vegas Golden Knights shored up their leaky goaltending by acquiring Robin Lehner in a trade with Chicago. The Blackhawks acquired backup goalie Malcolm Subban, defensive prospect Slava Demin and a second-round pick.